A baby can bring indescribable joy to one’s home and family. Holding, smelling, cuddling, and being around this precious little gift just makes your heart swell. Nothing compares to the amazing feeling that overwhelms you when you are around this tiny human being. When you first bring your new baby home, your thoughts are usually full of practical matters: how to keep your baby clean, warm and well-fed; diaper duties, car-seat installations and getting some sleep.
Once these necessities are taken care of, your little baby needs something more in order to thrive: loving, playful and warm interactions with those around him. Countless studies have shown that a child’s sense of self-esteem and his ability to form close relationships are greatly dependent on the quality of his bond with his parents. The best way to enhance this is to interact with you! Here’s how our family is enjoying our newest little addition, Titus. These activities encourage body awareness, emotional development, social development, tactile stimulation, upper body strength, and balance.
1. Infant Massage: If we love a nice back rub or spa massage, our little ones do, too! Simply find a room or a sunny spot on the bed or the carpet at a time when you and your baby are both relaxed. Our boys especially enjoy this after their baths. (We still do it with our 23 month old!) Take off all his cloths and rub some oil between your hands to prevent too much friction. Using the milking motion, gently squeeze each arm and leg. Move your hands through his torso and out to his sides. Make small circles around his hands and feet.
2. Stretching out: After nine months of being in the womb, your little one tends to curl up in a fetal position. Gentle stretching exercises will help him be aware of his arms and legs. Lay your baby on his back and very gently stretch his arms over his head and then down again. Try bringing his arm up while carefully stretching his opposite leg down.
3. Baby Airplane: Parents around the world have spent hours comforting colicky babies by swaying them back and forth in the airplane or football hold. The steady pressure along the baby’s tummy provides soothing warmth. This usually works well when your baby is gassy, overwhelmed, or tired. Support your baby tummy down by holding her chest and belly with your arm. Singing a sweet melody always helps.
4. Rock and Roll: When we think of rocking the baby, we usually think of the baby on his back in our arms in a chair. But one very soothing motion for our little one is to be rocked from side to side on his tummy. Roll up a towel or blanket. Lay your baby on his belly over the roll (so it supports his head and body). Turn his head gently to one side and very gently rock him from side to side. This rocking motion helps stimulate and develop a sense of balance. This also gives him a chance to practice lifting his head.
5. Baby Cycle: This is another one of our favorites! This simple exercise lets your baby feel his little legs and feet move in a different way. To do this, move his legs very gently and very slowly in a bicycling motion while singing, smiling, and talking to him. This fun switch and kick movement encourages him to wiggle his legs. Keep pedalling! Pretty soon, he will be doing it himself. By doing this, you are mimicking an action he will be using when he learns to crawl. *We usually do this during or after the Infant Massage.*
Have fun with your little one!